I never did entirely understand the almost-fanatic appeal of the Gua Bao – soft, sweet milk buns filled with (traditionally) braised pork belly, mustard greens and sauce – to some. Sure it’s tasty and all, and its possibilities in terms of building the perfect bite in this hand-held snack-to-go are certainly promising, but surely it doesn’t require the fad-level attention that its been getting right?
Clearly, I haven’t tried the baos from Belly Bao.
Located in GoodGod Small Club, where The Dip used to reside, Belly Bao has grown from its humble beginnings as a market stall, into a busy eatery with legions of adoring fans. It was the brainchild of Sylvia, who, while on holidays in New York, came across these delicious morsels. Upon returning to Sydney, she realised that there was a clear gap in the market (and her own access to delicious baos), and decided to risk it all and make her own. With her parents to guide her with their years of restaurant experience, Sylvia started her market stall and hasn’t looked back since.
From top: Tofu Bao, Soft Shell Crab Bao and Short Rib Bao
From top: Roast Pork Belly Bao, Fried Chicken Bao, and Braised Pork Belly Bao
The result? The best milk buns I’ve ever had in Sydney. It’s ridiculous just how fresh, soft, and fluffy they are, and it’s not surprising to hear from Sylvia that they make their own buns, rather than getting it supplied from someone else. And the fillings don’t disappoint either – the classic Braised Pork Belly Bao is my favourite with its thick dark sauce clinging to the tender slice of pork belly. The Short Rib Bao comes a close second, with its Korean inspired flavours of sweet soy and kim chi.
But don’t fill up on buns, because the Sweet Potato Fries, which are liberally salted and covered in a house made aioli and chilli sauce, are SO satisfying. Hot off the fryer, these fries are delicious in their sogginess – sweet potato fries don’t ever seem to crisp up in the same way that regular fries do – and the sauce over the top has to have some sort of hard drug in it, because I’m so SO addicted to the stuff.
The BBC also came highly recommended, and it did not disappoint. Juicy meat, crunchy exterior that shatters into your cleavage, and all that jazz. And anyone who goes through the effort of brining their poultry, is alright in my books.
I’m so relieved when Sylvia divulges that the plan is to make Belly Bao readily available 7 days a week, because I don’t think I can live with such good food being unavailable for half of the week. Now excuse me, while I get my fries on.